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Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

Lamy AL-Star
Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Ink: Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black
  • Review Paper: Doane Writing Pad

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

Specs:

  • Description:  The aluminum cousin of the Lamy Safari
  • Nib: Steel nib, Fine, interchangeable
  • Material: Aluminum body with plastic triangular grip
  • Filling Mechanism: Proprietary cartridge/converter system
  • Weight: ~22 grams filled (Cap – 10g, Body – 12g)
  • Measurements: 6.1″ closed, 6.7″ posted, 5.2″ unposted, 0.5″ diameter
  • Ink Capactiy: ~1ml
  • Price: $50.00 US on Amazon (affiliate link)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The Lamy AL-Star (not this matte black one I’m writing the review with) was the second fountain pen I had ever purchased. It’s surprising that it’s taken me this one to review one. The AL-Star is nearly identical to the Lamy Safari, except it’s made from aluminum. I’m definitely a huge fan of the pen (I have three of them…) so enjoy the review!

Appearance & Packaging:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

If you’re familiar with the looks and packaging of the Safari, you’re not going to be very surprised here. The AL-Star looks the same, but is ever so slightly wider in diameter than its plastic counterpart. It also has the love-it-or-hate-it signature Lamy triangular grip. Being right handed with a normal tripod grip, I find the pen to be very comfortable.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The difference between the Safari grip and the AL-Star grip is that instead of matching the body, all of the AL-Stars have a smoky transparent grey plastic grip, regardless of the color of the pen. I think the dark plastic looks great in pretty much every body combination (the sandy metallic tan doesn’t look so great in my opinion). I absolutely love the modern design that Lamy employs throughout their entire product line, and the AL-Star is no exception.

 

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star takes Lamy’s proprietary cartridge/converter system. For the price range ($37.00), it makes sense for the pen to have a C/C system. I’ve said it in other pen reviews, I really don’t mind the C/C system because it allows me to change inks more frequently. The AL-Star has an oval-shaped window in the body that allows you to see how much ink is left in the pen as well.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star takes the interchangeable steel nibs that are seen across most of Lamy’s product line. They can be hit or miss, but they’re really easy to swap out. The steel nibs aren’t bad writers at all, and are definitely in the middle of the road in terms of smoothness and flow. I like the interchangeable system, because it allows you to try new nib widths with a relatively low barrier to entry, and makes the pen very versatile as well. I found Lamy’s nib system to be hugely helpful in the beginning of my fountain pen journey. It really helped me to dial in my nib preferences without spending big money on a pen with a nib I may not be crazy about.

Feel:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The Lamy AL-Star definitely has a more premium feel than the Safari. It’s slightly heavier too. The aluminum has a nice tactile feel, and it’s nice to pick up something that’s cool to the touch (at least in the winter it is…) that warms up in your hand. The fit and finish of the AL-Star is also top notch. I used to write with my Safaris and AL-Stars posted, but lately I’ve been doing so with the cap off. The pen is definitely a bit long at 6.7″ posted, but it’s not horribly off balance should you decide to post while writing.

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

The AL-Star also has the triangular grip section as seen on the Safari. I personally find it to be comfortable, but others with non-standard grips may find it to be unbearable. The grip does enforce proper grip, and the nib is always going to be lined up properly with the page when you’re using the grip. Again, this helped me out quite a bit in the beginning of my fountain pen days. The feel of the body is nice, but the aluminum is not quite as durable as the Safari. The finish is definitely prone to showing wear, and I’ve heard stories of people denting the body of their AL-Star with abuse. I don’t mind when pens show wear, but if you baby the pen, I’m sure it will hold up just fine.

Pros:

  • Great design
  • Swappable nibs
  • Affordable price range
  • Premium feel over the Safari

Cons:

  • The grip isn’t for everyone
  • Aluminum construction doesn’t mean better durability

Conclusion:

Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review

I love my Lamys quite a bit, so I may be slightly biased. The AL-Star is a winner in my book. Swappable nibs make the pen very versatile. The minimalistic design and clean aesthetics really resonate with me as well. The triangular grip may not be for everyone, but it can really help out beginners develop a proper fountain pen grip. I have around 6 Safaris and 3 AL-Stars, and I’m definitely going to continue to add them to my collection. I would definitely recommend this pen to anyone.

Gallery:


About these ads

TWSBI Mini Fountain Pen in Classic Review

TWSBI Mini Classic
Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun
  • Review Paper: Kyokuto Cambridge 

Specs:

  • Description:  An affordable, easy-posting piston-filler from TWSBI.
  • Nib: Steel nib, Fine
  • Material: Plastic with metal accents
  • Filling Mechanism: Piston Filler
  • Weight: ~20 grams filled
  • Measurements: 4.60″ closed, 5.55″ posted, 4.25″ unposted
  • Ink Capactiy: ~2ml
  • Price: $50.00 US on Amazon (affiliate link)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

Admittedly, I had written off TWSBI for a while. After a continuously cracking 540 and an inconsistent medium nibbed Vac700, I figured I’d hold off on TWSBI until they worked out some of the kinks that were widely experienced with their products. After seeing their many improvements from the 540 line to the 580 line, and the new Mini model, I had to give TWSBI another shot. The Classic color scheme (black and clear) made it that much easier to pull the trigger. Read on to see if the TWSBI Mini holds up to it’s competitors!

Appearance & Packaging:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

Unboxing a TWSBI pen is always a treat. The packaging is very “Apple-like”. It’s a white plastic base, encapsulated in clear plastic. The pen is suspended above the base on two pedestals. The plastic box is surrounded by foam and safely packed into a brown cardboard box, adorned with the red TWSBI logo in the middle. It’s really a great presentation. Onto the pen itself…The Mini is a sharp looking pen. The Classic has a black grip, cap and piston knob, with a clear barrel. It’s an awesome looking combo. My favorite part is the black grip section, that usually drives me nuts trying to keep clean on a demonstrator.

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The Mini is small, but not too small. I love the demonstrator barrel and the black with chrome accents. The red TWSBI logo on the cap adds just a splash of color that works well with the overall aesthetic of the pen. It’s a great looking little pen, and it looks awesome loaded up with some Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

I was pretty nervous for this part of the review. My first TWSBI 540 didn’t even write out of the box, and my Vac700′s medium nib skipped more than it wrote a solid line. I’m happy to say that there are zero issues with the Mini’s fine nib. It’s a bit on the dry side, but that’s not a complaint. It’s silky smooth and lays down a nice fine line. The nib on the Mini is a little bit smaller than the 5X0 and 700 series.

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The nib is a good size for the pen, and doesn’t come off as too small (I’m looking at you Kaweco Allrounder). It’s definitely one of the smoother steel nibs I have used. Before TWSBI entered the scene, a piston filler in a sub-$100 pen was a rarity. The piston operates smoothly and efficiently. It’s easy to get a full reservoir of ink, and it’s fun to fill too. A great nib and an awesome filling system…so far, so good.

Feel:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

The TWSBI Mini is a smaller pen (I mean, it is called the Mini), but I wouldn’t call it miniature. Unposted, it’s a bit too small to comfortably write with. The coolest part about the feel of the mini is how the pen posts. The cap actually screws onto the back of the pen, making a super secure post that doesn’t interfere with the piston knob. The screw cap greatly helps in improving the rigidity of the pen while writing. Posting the cap makes the pen an ideal width for me. Balance is great and it’s not too light or too heavy. If you are familiar with the Sailor Sapporo, you’ll be right at home with the Mini.

They’re practically identical in size, weight, and proportion when both pens are posted. My one issue with the feel of the Mini is the metal ring at the bottom of the grip, closest to the nib. The ring has a slightly sharp edge to it, and the way I grip the pen results in some discomfort over time. Choking up on the pen a bit solves the issue, but it’s not ideal for me to change my grip to use a pen. Other than the metal ring, the TWSBI Mini feels great in hand.

Pros:

  • Improved design (grip ring) prevents cracking
  • Great looks
  • Unique packaging
  • Smooth, consistent nib
  • Great value

Cons:

  • The grip’s metal ring prevents cracking, but it may be uncomfortable for some.

Conclusion:

TWSBI Mini Classic Fountain Pen Review

I would say that I am 99% happy with my TWSBI Mini. The nib is much better than the last generation of TWSBIs I’ve owned, and they have added a metal ring to the grip to prevent cracking (although it’s a bit sharp). The Mini’s great looks and feel, coupled with it’s affordable price make the Mini an awesome pen for both beginners and collectors. The Mini did a great job at changing my mind about TWSBI. The Mini is a great little pen, that I would definitely have no hesitations recommending. Good show TWSBI, good show.

Gallery:


Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses – Ink Review

Noodler’s Ink – Black Swan in Australian Roses

Handwritten Review

PenSailor Sapporo, Medium Nib
Ink: Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses
Paper: Kyokuto FOB COOP Dot Grid – B5 (Available at JetPens.com)

Notes:
This ink really needs to be in a flex pen or a stub nib to show off its true potential. Black Swan in Australian Roses is the more purple of the two Black Swan inks. The English Roses leans much more red than this ink does. It’s hard to see the awesome shading this ink is capable of, but instead of admitting that I should have put this in my Eversharp Symphony, I’m going to pretend I wanted to do a non-flex nib review of the ink. Definitely check out some other reviews to see what this stuff can do in a flexy nib, I’ll link some posts at the bottom of the review. In a normal nib, the ink writes a bit dry. Since it’s more than likely to be used in a wet flex nib, the dryness makes sense. In a pen that lays down a ton of ink, the slight dryness would be a welcomed characteristic. The color of the ink is nice, as is the mild shading in the Sailor medium nib. When I pushed the nib a bit on the second page of the review, you can begin to see how well the ink pools at the bottom of the downstrokes. It’s actually pretty similar to the Iroshizuku Yama-Budo if I had to compare it to anything. I prefer my purple inks dusty (ie: Akkerman Vorhoot Violet, Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa) – but this one is definitely no dud. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the pictures!

Pros:

  • Nice color
  • Great for flex, stub nibs
  • Nice shading

Cons:

  • A bit dry in non-flex nibs

Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses Fountain Pen Ink Review

Gallery:

Other Reviews:

Noodler’s Navy – Ink Review

Noodler’s Ink – Navy

Handwritten Review

PenPilot Metropolitam, Medium Nib
Ink: Noodler’s Navy
Paper: Kyokuto FOB COOP Dot Grid – B5 (Available at JetPens.com)

Notes:
Another day, another ink from Noodler’s. This offering is a medium-dark shade of blue that exhibits some nice shading properties, ranging from a light turquoise to a dark blue. It reminds me a bit of De Atramentis’ Plum, but without the green tone. When I think of Navy blue, this is not the color that comes to mind. I was expecting a dark blue with a bit of grey in it, like Diamine Midnight or Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts. The ink performs well, flowing effortlessly from the Metropolitan’s medium nib. Lubrication and smoothness are on point with what’s expected, but overall I’m not blown away by the color. There are other blue inks that I like more that I already have in my collection, but Noodler’s Navy is by no means bad. Just be aware that you’re not going to get that deep dark blue that comes to mind when you hear “Navy” blue.

Pros:

  • Awesome blue to turquoise shading
  • Smooth
  • Noodler’s inks are a great value

Cons:

  • The name doesn’t really fit the color

Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink Review Noodler's Navy Fountain Pen Ink ReviewGallery:

 

Noodler’s Dark Matter – Ink Review

Noodler’s Ink – Dark Matter

Handwritten Review

PenLevenger L-Tech Stealth, Medium Nib
Ink: Noodler’s Dark Matter
Paper: Kyokuto FOB COOP Dot Grid – B5 (Available at JetPens.com)

Notes:
It’s astounding how I do not already own a bottle of this ink. It has to be my second favorite black ink out there, and I’ve gone through 3 samples already. This ink does some awesome grey to black shading that I absolutely love. It’s dark, but not too dark, and could easily work as a go-to black ink. The dark grey elements in the ink make it unique, and give it some needed character, which is rare in a black ink. The name of the ink is also pretty cool. Here’s a link to the story, definitely check it out. Another thing about the ink that makes it more interesting is that it’s a reformulation of a vintage military issue ink. Most importantly, it looks and performs great. It’s nice and smooth, and the flow in the Levenger L-Tech’s medium nib is great. There’s no way that I’m not buying a bottle when this sample runs dry, I’m hooked.

Pros:

  • Grey to black shading is awesome
  • Great flow
  • Cool name / back story

Cons:

  • NONE.

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink Review

Noodler's Dark Matter Ink Fountain Pen Ink ReviewGallery:

 

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